THE era of peace in New York's Chinatown is coming to an end and police expect a new surge of shootings after a period of power consolidation among gang leaders. The 3,028 cases of violent crime reported in 1995 was low compared with the fierce shootings in the packed streets of Chinatown a few years ago. 'There was only one shooting last year, which was pretty unbelievable,' said David Yat, community affairs officer at the Police Department in Lower Manhattan. Police are putting resources into strengthening intelligence and their anti-gang taskforce, aiming to neutralise the more notorious gangs. Several arrests have been made of key members in the Hip Shing, On Leung and Tung On - a mixture of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Vietnamese gangsters - who have divided Chinatown and Asian-based Queens and Brooklyn areas into spheres of influence. 'Leading figures of the three gangs have been arrested and their followers have so far not dared make any rash moves until they find out what's happened to their bosses,' Mr Yat said. But the rapid rise of a Fujianese-based gang, the Fuk Ching, during the relatively quiet period threatened to lead to a new wave of violence. 'They focus on smuggling people to make money. The influx of illegal immigrants has also generated a lot of social problems,' Mr Yat said. The short history of the Fuk Ching gang made it harder for police to anticipate its moves. He said illegal immigrants unable to pay the high fees for bringing them into the country were often targeted for cruel punishments. Fuk Ching gang members had been known to kidnap illegal immigrants and hammer nails into their hands if their families were unable to pay the ransom.